An increasingly common request in our garden centres is for peat-free compost or growing media. We are pleased to say, you can find a number of compost varieties that are completely peat-free at Hillier Garden Centres, including our own Hillier Peat Free Multi-Purpose Compost, along with composts that have a very low peat percentage and naturally produced soil conditioners.

For those growing using peat-free, in this short guide we look a little at the development history of the product, along with advice on using it in your own garden.

While gardeners tend to be naturally environmentally minded, we are also becoming increasingly aware of ways we can do more in our gardens; whether that’s supporting our wildlife ecosystem or being conscious of the products we use as part of our gardening. Growing media – compost, manure, soil conditioners etc. – are a fundamental part of gardening success and we know how important maintaining good soil health is.

Garden composts have historically included a quantity of peat, as this has been a vital component in the successful growing of plants and food produce. While the horticulture industry only takes peat from a tiny fraction of peatland, we recognise the importance of protecting peat bogs and for many years have been looking into effective, sustainable replacements. Huge progress has been made, allowing for production at scale of quality, peat-free alternatives.

Hillier Peat Free Multi-Purpose Compost

In spring 2020, we launched a completely peat-free version of our popular Hillier Multi-Purpose compost. It uses the revolutionary peat replacement ingredient BIO3, developed by Westland. BIO3 is made up of:

1. BIOFibre. A natural, nutrient-rich fibre. It locks onto the plant root as it grows and ensures fast, effective transfer of nutrients and moisture into the plant.

2. West+. A unique wood fibre technology that creates the optimum structure and air spaces in the compost to deliver the very best root growth

3. Coir+. This element acts like a sponge, storing and releasing moisture and nutrients for longer.

This combination of natural ingredients has been shown to be able to compete with peat-based products in terms of growing performance. This means gardeners can use peat free compost in exactly the same way they use traditional compost; nothing additional needs to be added to the soil and there is no difference to your watering routine.

Other peat-free composts without the benefit of BIO3 can have different growing characteristics, in particular being more freely draining than peat-based composts and requiring more frequent watering and feeding.

A Peat Free Future 

With quality peat-free alternatives now tried and tested, the biggest remaining challenge for the industry is to be able to source enough of the source material – such as wood fibre – to meet demand. This is something the industry is working on.

We also need to ensure gardeners are aware that peat-free compost exists, allowing an informed choice to be made.

Find Hillier Peat Free Multi-purpose Compost at Hillier Garden Centres, along with peat-free planters and soil enricher.